By Leslie Lindsay
Ah…it’s the weekend. The sky is blue, the temperature is perfect and your little one has a game. Could the world look any sunnier?
Yes! If your child’s team wins.
But wait. That didn’t come out right. Well, yes…it did. Everyone likes to win. It feels innately better than losing.
Last weekend, all of those elements came together. Sun. Weather. Winning. The trifecta of youth sports. We celebrated at a nearby Italian restaurant and my hubby patted our redheaded soccer star on the back and said, “We can go out to dinner/lunch” after a winning game. She grinned. Her eyes sparkled. “And I get to pick the place, right”
And so while we all noshed on breadsticks and pesto, it was really Kelly who was the winner.
Or was it?
Sure, there’s a sense of shared comraderie in winning a game, even for us parents and sibs. But what if my daughter’s team had lost? We would have gone home, tails tucked between our legs and had Ramen noodles. Or cereal.
Kelly loves to get feedback on her game. Not all kids do. But for my daughter, she wants to know who we liked best for that game. I think what she means is, who supported teamwork, who played well. Not all kids like this. Some kids just want the game over and they want to get back to the business of being a kid.
Makes sense, right?
We give the feedback. “Well, Cameron was a really good goalie today,” we might say. “Sam was fast.” …”Carly could have helped on defense better.”
But most of all, we tell our daughter that she played well. The number one thing we can say to her is this, “I love watching you play.”
Maybe the game was a bust. But we can still enjoy watching our little sweeties running around a field or court, right? (by the way, this “I love watching you ____” works well for *anything*. I love watching you work is great for homework).
Here’s another thing we need to remember as parents on the side-lines: learn the names of kids on the team. Shout their names out too, not just your kiddo’s name. Same goes for getting to know the parents. Tell them their kid did well. And remember, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
[bottom image of boys soccer retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/parents-ruin-sports-for-their-kids-by-obsessing-about-winning/280442/ on 9.20.14. Top soccer image from author’s personal archives.]